Regina presents rating system

Responding to the ongoing vacuum-rating debate, the Regina Co. has introduced an air power per amp rating, which has begun appearing on Regina upright and stick vacuums at retailers across the country.

The company said its new air power per amp rating, a departure from straight amperage, is an attempt to better market the power of its units.

Regina defines air power per amp as an “efficiency measurement of the amount of air movement provided by the vacuum cleaner.” To obtain a single air/amp number for each upright or stick, Regina divided the machine’s air power, based on the American Society for Testing & Materials (ASTM) F558 methodology, by the vacuum’s straight amperage.

According to Regina president David Jones, air power per amp numbers range from 10 to 31. Regina’s 6.3-amp Housekeeper upright, for example, converts to an air/amp rating of 22.5.

Straight amperage, the power measurement most commonly used by vacuum manufacturers, is restricted by national electrical codes to numbers of 12 or lower.

To aid consumers in the transition from straight amperage to air power per amp, Regina and its retailers have begun stickering inventoried vacuums with explanatory paragraphs as well as air per amp numbers. Future product packaging will contain a similar explanation; vac bodies currently in production are being stamped with their air/amp numbers.

Jones said the formulation of its air power per amp system was spurred by Hoover’s introduction of a cleaning effectiveness per amp rating earlier this year.

Hoover’s rating system compares the cleaning effectiveness portion of the ASTM’s fact tag to the performance of a vacuum and divides the resulting number by amperage.

“Hoover is the industry leader and it decided to move away from amps and create another rating system,” Jones said. “Hoover forced all of us to relook at the way we market products. You’ll see manufacturers begin to use different marketing techniques to tell consumers what the difference in power is.”

Jones cited Sharp Electronics, a Mahwah, N.J., manufacturer of upright vacuums, which moved to a dual listing of amps and wattage last year. Sharp’s marketing manager, Deborah LaBruna, said the addition of wattage was, among other considerations, sparked by the European market’s emphasis on wattage as a power measurement.

The floor-care industry has attempted to formulate a compresive rating for two decades, but the lack of agreement among manufacturers has brought many industry insiders to the conclusion that the Federal government will intervene and impose a standard.

Jones doesn’t see Regina’s system as the long-awaited solution.

“We’re not suggesting or encouraging other people to use it,” Jones explained of air/amp. “We haven’t said this is the savior of the industry and this is what others should use. This is one of many ways to market product.”

Nevertheless, Jones said the air power per amp formulation is applicable to any vacuum.

“Our system is straightforward,” Jones said. “Every product’s air power is measured by the ASTM. Watt output of a motor is available from each manufacturer and from motor manufacturers. Amps is the input of power required to make a motor operate. The higher the [air/amp] number, the greater the efficiency and more power the unit has. That would be true of all manufacturers.”

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He added that the company doesn’t expect consumers to base their purchasing decision strictly on its new air power per amp number.

“There are many reasons to buy a product,” he explained. “Power is just one of those.”

The Eureka Co., Bloomington, Ill., which came out strongly against Hoover’s C.E./amp rating, declined to comment on Regina’s system. Executives of the Cleveland-based Royal Appliance Manufacturing Co. were not available for comment.

In a written statement, the Hoover Co., said it “supports the right of any manufacturer to utilize performance rating measurements, provided they are soundly based, as is the Hoover cleaning effectiveness per amp system. In fact, Hoover would welcome any meaningful system which abandons the use of amps alone as a rating for vacuum cleaners.

“It is difficult to comment further because we have not yet seen the Regina rating system on a product,” Hoover added. “But, if it does, as we’ve been told, refer to air power as measured by ASTM F558-88. we find that difficult to understand. ASTM F558-88 is a testing procedure for vacuum cleaners for determining air performance at the end of the hose. The ASTM Standard states, ‘This method does not apply to the carpet cleaning mode of operation.’ It applies only to cleaning tools. Also, ASTM states the testing must be at the end of the hose, therefore the motor would have to be in the assembled product. The published information we have seen about the Regina system indicates testing is done before the cleaner is assembled. We cannot comment further until we receive more information and can examine a product.”

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